The RM380: A Pocket Pistol that is Actually Fun to Shoot!

I think I first saw a Remington RM380 at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA in 2016. I was at the time exploring the purchase of a small pistol, but I also remember not being impressed with it or anything else I saw in that category. Truth be told, at the time, I probably hadn’t fully thought out the niche of the pocket gun. Much later, I read a review of the little gun in Issue 4 of RECOIL’s CONCEALMENT Magazine. Sometimes, being exposed to new information in a new context can alter one’s perception. In reading the review, I was intrigued to learn that Remington had acquired Rohrbaugh in 2014 and had essentially stayed true to the original design tenets that the Rohrbaugh brothers had imbued into their unique line of expensive pocket pistols. In fact, Remington actively involved the Rohrbaugh brothers in the design team for the RM380. I may not have been very familiar with the RM380, but I certainly had heard of Rohrbaugh. I was impressed by Remington’s apparent commitment to avoiding a repeat of the R51 fiasco and the testing that they ran the new pistol through. Apparently, in addition to the initial torture testing of the design and ongoing testing of pistols coming off the production line every week, every RM380 has two magazines of hollow point and ball ammunition fired through it before leaving the factory to ensure reliable function. Finally, I appreciated several features of the gun that make it an ideal backup or pocket piece. In short, I was interested enough in the gun that when I saw and handled one at Cabela’s in early 2017, I decided to purchase it on the spot.

My RM380…

Having previously shot Robert’s Ruger LCP, I had somewhat of an idea of what to compare a pocket pistol with. I was able to physically compare the two side by side at the gun counter, and I was pleasantly surprised that the RM380 was essentially the same dimensions, with the grip being only slightly larger and longer.

The gun fits my hand well, and actually fits decently in my pocket. It comes with two magazines, one with a flush baseplate, and one with an extended baseplate. The magazines hold six rounds, adequate for a pocket pistol. I actually prefer the flush baseplate to the extended baseplate, both for concealment purposes as well as ergonomics. The extra magazine I purchased also came with both flush and extended baseplates in the packaging.

Here’s what initially impressed me about the gun.

  • Good fit and finish
  • Ambidextrous magazine release
  • Functional recessed slide stop with last round hold open feature
  • Smooth and relatively light, although very long, double action trigger pull
  • Easy to rack the slide – my wife can manipulate the gun with ease
  • Checkering on the front strap to aid with grip
  • Easy disassembly and reassembly
  • Completely dehorned for carry with virtually no sharp edges
  • As noted above, comes with two magazines

The only thing I’m not crazy about are the sights. They are literally milled into the top of the slide, and very low profile. They are barely functional iron sights, better than a legacy guttersnipe, but still challenging to use at any appreciable distance. To be fair, the pistol is hardly designed for long range engagements and is supposed to slide easily into a pocket, but the sights could perhaps be a little more prominent. For being an integral part of the slide, they’re well executed. I just wish they were a tad taller. Crimson Trace offers their Laserguard® laser sight to fit the RM380, and with the sights on the pistol such as they are, the laser would make a worthwhile, albeit expensive, addition to the gun.

RM380 sights top

While the trigger pull is LONG, it is designed to be so as a safety feature on a pistol that may very well be dropped into a pocket or purse. With this understanding in mind, it’s not bad at all, quite reminiscent of a smooth and well-worn double action revolver trigger. Although it’s not terribly important to me, the double action hammer fired design of the gun means that it is second strike capable.

Disassembly of the gun is relatively straightforward, simply by lining up the hole in the slide with the take-down pin and pushing it out from the opposite side. Although a punch would be ideal, I actually used a toothpick to push the pin out from the other side the first time I took the gun apart. Much as discussed in the review in CONCEALMENT, having the pin lock up the gun is a remote possibility, but nonetheless possible. In the first few weeks that I had the gun, albeit while I was trying to cause this to happen, I was able to get the slide to lock up with a press check with the gun tilted to the side. Absent recent cleaning and lubrication and doing a press check with the gun held sideways, I don’t view this possibility as an even remotely valid concern.

RM380 field strip

While there is not yet a cornucopia of holsters available for the gun, nor is the landscape completely barren. My first holster for the gun was a pancake holster from Shamrock Holsters that I wet-molded to the gun. In looking at other available options, I settled on Desantis as an easy solution for pocket and ankle holsters for the gun. As I have funds and time to explore other holster options, I will update the blog accordingly.

Over the past few months, I’ve shot a little over 500 rounds of various ammunition through the gun with no malfunctions that weren’t attributable to operator error or specifically induced for practice. The malfunctions that I will detail below all occurred when loading the gun, in that the slide did not always go fully forward to chamber a round. In every instance that this occurred, a quick second rack of the slide chambered the top round in the magazine. I have not had this happen in my past few range trips, so I am going to call it either operator error or a break in period. When actually firing the gun, I experienced zero malfunctions or stoppages, and the slide locked back on empty every time. I suggest using the overhand rack or sling shot method to send the slide forward, since the recessed slide stop is difficult to press to release the slide. The slide stop being recessed into the frame is a good thing on a pistol this small and I’m just glad it’s there.

Below, you can find my summary of my range sessions, with round count annotation. I encourage you to read my entries, as they are telling in regards to carrying the pistol for self-defense. While I have no intentions of torture testing the pistol to failure, I do plan to continue shooting the little gun regularly, with the idea of carrying it as a backup gun or perhaps even a primary when I absolutely cannot conceal my Glock. The slide has some minor superficial scratches from being banged around in my locking case by airline baggage handlers, but that just gives it some character. I remain very pleased with the gun, both from a reliability standpoint as well as in terms of shooting and carrying it. If you’re in the market for a pocket .380, I think the RM380 should be a strong contender for your consideration.

01/13/17 – I first took the gun to the range on a cold and windy January day and fired three magazines worth of ammo. For ammunition I brought a box of Winchester White Box 95 grain, a box of Federal Premium HST 380 Auto Micro, and a box of Speer Gold Dot. The latter two I intended to briefly test for the best accuracy as a carry load. I experienced no malfunctions and found that the gun, compared to my experience with Robert’s LCP, was almost pleasurable to shoot with very manageable recoil. It’s definitely a small gun, but one of the more controllable small pistols that I’ve ever shot. My wife’s G42 is better, but that’s really not a fair comparison.

In comparing the two self-defense ammunition choices I had selected, my perception was that the Federal HST was loaded hotter. It also grouped perhaps a little tighter. I shot the gun only at 7 yards this first outing. The Speer Gold Dot felt almost comparable to the Winchester White Box in terms of recoil. Based on that first range trip, I decided to carry the Federal HST in my gun. The Federal load is a 99 grain HST JHP, and one of the reasons I picked it out from the multitude of choices available at Cabela’s was because it was advertised as being specifically designed for short barreled “micro” pistols. The RM380 certainly qualifies in this respect. I know that some will discourage the use of anything but FMJ ammunition in .380 due to penetration concerns, but I’m comfortable with my choice.

I also found that I agreed with CONCEALMENT’s remarks in terms of how to manage the trigger. The RM380’s trigger is very much like that of a double action revolver. Rather than trying to stage the trigger, I found it far easier to just steadily and consistently pull through the trigger pull to fire the gun with a lot of finger on the trigger. Make no mistake, it is a long trigger pull, but a smooth and relatively lightweight one. I much prefer it to the trigger on the LCP and maybe even to the trigger on my LCR.

In short, I was gratified on that first range trip to discover that so far, I had not made a poor choice in choosing the RM380 as a potential pocket/backup/NPE gun.

Round Count – 21

01/19/17 – The next trip to the range, I finished putting that first box of Winchester White Box downrange with Mike Seeklander’s “Extend, Prep, and Press” drill at 7 yards. Aside from a few fliers when shooting one-handed, I was relatively pleased with my accuracy with such a small gun. Again, as discussed in CONCEALMENT’s review, I discovered that the gun shoots a little high. For head shots, I will need to aim at the chin or neck to achieve the desired point of impact, and obviously a six o’clock hold is ideal for this pistol. I also loaded some empty casings into my magazines to induce malfunctions. I was amazed that the “tap” of the tap-rack sequence was enough to chamber the empty cases! Except for the malfunctions that I specifically induced for training purposes, I had no malfunctions with the gun. I was also happy to discover that for all intents and purposes, I could run the gun just as I would a larger sized pistol. The slide locked back consistently, and reloads and malfunction clearance were the same.

Extend, Prep, & Press @ 7 yards…

Round count – 64

01/27/17 – Another 50 rounds through the little gun, this time with Herter’s 95 gr. FMJ (Cabela’s house brand loaded by Sellier & Bellot). Again, no malfunctions. I was shooting with Mechanix gloves since it was 41 F and windy. One thing that I discovered is that with the ambidextrous magazine release, I prefer to release the spent magazine with the middle finger of my firing hand. Since I have to open up my grip for the magazine to drop free anyway due to the size of the gun, this doesn’t bother me. I find using my middle finger more effective than trying to open my grip and hit the magazine release with my thumb. This is yet another good thing about having an ambidextrous magazine release! (I have to do the same thing with my wife’s G42, since I have it set up for her being left handed.) I also noted that the Herter’s ammunition didn’t shoot as high over the sights as my carry ammunition does. Several of my head shots wound up in the neck before I figured this out. Still would have been bad news for a real live target, but I will have to keep this in mind as I search out a practice load that closely mimics my carry ammo.

Round count – 114

02/02/17 – Another box of Herter’s 95 gr. FMJ through the gun. 34 degrees outside, so I again wore gloves while shooting. I would hesitate to characterize this as a malfunction per se, but I did note that on more than instance, when loading from slide lock, I had to retract the slide and release it twice to get the first round to chamber. Aside from that, no problems. I also took the opportunity to fire the gun held in an extreme close quarters retention position and I can attest that the muzzle blast from such a short barrel is not insignificant.

Round count – 164 

 02/17/17 – Fifty rounds of Freedom Munitions 100 gr. RNFP with no stoppages (I’m going to be shooting this ammo for a while, since I just bought 500 rounds!). I believe the problem with loading from slide lock noted above may be operator error. I found that if I paused when retracting the slide before releasing it, the round would chamber. I suspect that I have not been fully retracting the slide against spring tension and perhaps inducing the failure to feed. I was practicing at my club’s plate rack at approximately 18 yards and was able to hit the 8 inch plates probably 75% of the time. Again, simply pulling through the trigger instead of trying to stage it was a far more successful tactic.

Round Count – 214

02/21/17 – Fifty rounds of Freedom Munitions 100 gr. RNFP, no malfunctions whatsoever. I shot a modified and abbreviated Dot Torture. I shot from the ready, as I didn’t bring a holster, and I only shot the first eight “dots.” I was surprised at how well I did, right up until the point that I had to shoot support hand only! That skill will need some work with this little gun. At 3 yards, the sights are pretty much dead on, although probably not really necessary at such close range. I saved the last six rounds of the box of fifty to let a friend shoot a magazine worth of ammo through the gun. His main impression was that the gun had significant recoil. He is still a relatively new shooter, and I mention that to reinforce that small guns such as the RM380 are probably best relied on by more experienced shooters.

Round Count – 264

03/03/17 – I shot the Tactical Professor’s “Baseline Evaluation” drill today. The only malfunction occurred when I was loading from slide lock, again I had the slide hang up and fail to chamber the top round, as described above. A second attempt at racking the slide chambered the round. As this has only occurred during loading, I hesitate to label it as a malfunction. I had a few fliers… one shot outside the “A” zone at 7 yards, two outside at 10 yards, and four outside at 15 yards (43/50 hits). The issue of the gun shooting high over the sights became more pronounced at 10 and 15 yards. Obviously these high hits would still be effective against an adversary, but the issue would be more significant if a head shot or a shot on a partially obscured target was needed. I’m still very happy with the little gun, although shooting this drill showed that at my current baseline proficiency with the gun, I can really only guarantee 100% hits on a vital zone within five to seven yards. I will repeat this drill from time to time to see if I can improve.

My target after shooting the Tactical Professor’s “Baseline Evaluation” drill. Note the marked shots outside the “A” zone.

Round Count – 314

03/18/17 – While at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I took the opportunity to attend Chuck Haggard’s “Practical Practice with Pocket Poppers” class intended for small handguns and snubby revolvers. We shot 46 rounds in the two-hour block, the final 25 of which were dedicated to shooting the Atlanta Police 2nd Weapon Qualification. We also did quite a bit of initial dry fire practice. I learned some new reloading and malfunction clearance techniques to use with the small gun and got to practice my draw from pocket carry, although I’m not sure I will be pocket carrying the gun very much. While it fits my pocket just fine, it prints rather obviously. I may yet invest in a cargo pocket holster for the gun. Haggard also demonstrated a good method to draw from an ankle holster that didn’t involve kneeling. I will have to practice that some more. All in all, I was again very pleased with the gun and experienced no malfunctions. Although the qualification course of fire has been superseded by an updated version in the state of GA, I did manage to shoot a qualifying score of 240/250 with the little gun.

Round Count – 360

04/04/2017 – I shot another 50 rounds of my stock of Freedom Munitions 100 gr. RNFP today. I decided to shoot Dot Torture with the gun using my pocket holster. I managed to score a 46/50. Two out of my four misses were with my strong hand only! I was tired and cold, as I had already put 150 rounds through my Glock on a 44 degree rainy day. I will probably either switch to ankle carry or find a different pocket holster, as more often than not, the holster comes out of my pocket with the gun. Also, I found it interesting, although not surprising, that when going for the speed reload, my support hand instinctively went to my left hip instead of my left pocket! At any rate, seeing as I carry other stuff in my pockets, I will probably wind up dedicating the gun to ankle carry. I experienced no malfunctions, and during reloads, I continued to be able to handle the gun essentially the same as I would a full size.

File Apr 04, 23 03 03

Round Count – 410

 04/25/2017 – Another 50 rounds of Freedom Munitions 100 gr. RNFP downrange. I again shot the Tactical Professor’s Baseline Evaluation Drill, as detailed in this blog post. I experienced no malfunctions whatsoever. My accuracy suffered (38/50), as I was cold, wet, and tired, but that’s reality. I continue to note that the gun’s POI hits high compared to POA. This obviously becomes more pronounced as the range increases.

Round Count – 460

05/02/2017 – Another 50 rounds of Freedom Munitions 100 gr. RNFP shot today. I decided to shoot the Baseline Evaluation drill yet again, as linked to above. I experienced no malfunctions, and overall shot better today. I kept all of my shots inside of the 6×6 inch box on my target until I reached 10 yards, where I dropped one. I then missed outside the box with six of my shots at 15 yards, with 5/6 misses hitting high, for an overall score of 43/50. I consciously aimed over the sights of the gun for the entirety of the drill, knowing that it hits high. You can see this effect become more pronounced as the range increases. Thus, I can really only consider this gun suitable for closer conflicts. In fact, I would consider that the maximum range to attempt a head shot (for me) roughly coincides with about the range that it would be safe to bring the gun to full extension at eye level without risking having it slapped away or grabbed by an opponent.

Round Count – 510

I have no particular plans to update this post with any further range reports or round count, but may pen the occasional new blog entry as I acquire different holsters or if I experience any future problems with the gun. I welcome questions, comments, and critiques! Thanks for visiting and reading the blog.

2 thoughts on “The RM380: A Pocket Pistol that is Actually Fun to Shoot!

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